The Art Center
The Sant Atizana (Art Center) was born in the collaborative vision of Wellfleet’s artist Ellen LeBow and Matenwa Community Learning Center’s Chris Low, with help from Nauset’s Lisa Brown in helping to procure and write a shared grant for Matenwa community, it is the epicenter for operations for our Nauset Haiti Immersion Program.
The school, in operation for over 20 years, has received much support from the Rotarians and is currently using a literacy program promoted by Rotary International.
The Arts Center has been in operation for 17 years, and was created by Lisa Brown and Ellen LeBow through money obtained by a grant from the Ella Lyman Cabot Trust in Boston, MA. The Arts Center promotes education and vocational training through environmental and artisan projects that in turn help support socioeconomic stability in the village. The mission of the MCLC is to promote learning (pre-k through 9th grades) in a safe and equitable environment using no corporal punishment, and teaches all subjects (except languages) in Haitian Creole. The Sant Atizana has supported a reforestation program, an artisan’s collective and a community music program. The MCLC has initiated a school breakfast program that was partially funded through Nauset High School fundraising contributions. MCLC has gained national recognition for their use of new teaching modalities and experiential learning techniques, introduced by visiting teachers from the US, of which we at Nauset are a large part. Our Nauset students help at the MCLC in the mornings, and at the Sant Atizana in the afternoons. Without exception, all of our participating students have championed the cause of this humanitarian and educational effort, participated in fundraising events here at home, and take great pride and ownership in the programs they have helped to initiate in Matenwa. The Nauset community, the village of Matenwa, and we have become life-long friends!
Haitian teachers from MCLC come to Nauset to observe new teaching modalities, speak to classes and give school wide lectures and presentations. This has been a wonderful opportunity for real multicultural exchange with a small mountain village school.
This year, Nauset has increased its commitment to partnering with the Matenwa Community Learning Center (MCLC), by actively pursuing a relationship with The Youth Association For Development in Matenwa (AJMPD) and the Nauset Human Rights Academy (HRA). We are kicking off a fundraising initiative to pay for school for the 200 plus children that do not have the opportunity for education.
We also are active in supporting “Wana’s House” a respite for children from 8 months to 14 years who may otherwise be forced into becoming restaveks or child slaves. These programs really need our help.
The Haiti Club and HRA will create “Matenwa Monday, Change for Good” where each Monday, students are encouraged to bring in one extra dollar to contribute to this fundraising effort. With a little education and generosity, it is hoped that this initiative will be successful and Nauset students may take pride in the ownership of a school wide humanitarian effort (eight to ten dollar pays for an elementary aged student’s education for one year, 2000 dollars a year keeps young kids fed and cared for). Together, the Nauset Community can really make a difference.
The Educational Value
The immersion experience of our students going to a Developing country and helping in a humanitarian and educational context is tremendous. Our Nauset students walk away from this exchange more thoughtful and worldly, often solidifying their plans to do more humanitarian work here and abroad in the future. The students gain knowledge and insight into a culture that is deeply-rooted. Culturally and historically, students make connections to Nauset curriculum on all levels, witnessing daily hardships to current events and world politics. Interpersonally, students are challenged to speak in a different language and live with different customs, and in difficult conditions. Intrapersonally, students look at their own values, limitations and strengths in the context of their Haitian experience compared to their American privilege.
Students are expected to focus on a project while in Matenwa, and once home, they present their findings and experiences to a school wide assembly, usually with written work, power point presentations, slides and video. A popular co-curricular club in Haitian Studies every Wednesday after school gives testament to the interest the student body has in humanitarian issues. Now, coupled with the new collaboration between HRA and AJMPD, there are more opportunities now for long-lasting fundraising and sustainable project possibilities.
Ellen Lebow, director of Art Matènwa thought it best to begin a recycling/ sustainablity effort in the form of a pig. Above is her negotiating the price with a local farmer
Nauset makes an annual ten day trip to Matenwa every April before and during April Vacation. This trip is not easy, and there are many considerations in choosing the students who participate in this unique experience. Resilience, determination, coping skills, and camping experience are some of the attributes we look for in considering candidates. Working together as a team, maturity and flexibility are important skill sets. Learning basic Creole is paramount to the immersion experience. Parents must be totally on-board with their children traveling Haiti on this trip of a lifetime. Lisa Brown must be familiar with the students who wish to go. Building a team centered resiliency through student and family pot lucks and informational sessions are required.